Visitors to the San Diego Zoo are getting their first glimpse of two toco toucan chicks, which are now actively exploring their habitat in the zoo’s Parker Aviary, with mom close by.
After spending nearly two months tucked away in a nest cavity, the pair flew from their nest last weekend. This is the first time in 32 years this species has hatched at the San Diego Zoo.
"It’s really great to see all the nuances of mom raising her chicks," said Eric Arntzen, senior bird keeper at the San Diego Zoo. "At this age, the chicks are very playful, especially when it comes to feeding. So, it’s great to see them interacting with their mom in this way."
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Following a 17-day incubation period, the chicks hatched on May 11 and May 12. Their mother has been very attentive and protective of her chicks, often feeding them in the morning and sporadically throughout the day.
The birds’ diet consists of a variety of fruit, including papaya and blueberries. Toco toucans reach maturity between one and two years of age, but keepers expect the chicks to begin sampling food items on their own in the next week.
Toco toucans (Ramphastos toco) are native to the rain forests of South America. They have a distinctive bill and are the largest and most recognizable toucan species. Toco toucans are listed as a species of Least Concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, stated the San Diego Zoo Global.
The most pressing threats to current populations include habitat loss, hunting and the removal of chicks for the pet trade. The San Diego Zoo participates in the toco toucan Species Survival Plan (SSP) managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
Visitors to the San Diego Zoo can observe the young birds in the Zoo’s Parker Aviary, from 9 a.m. until 30 minutes before sunset.